In Memory of Mystery Author Peter Bowen, 1945-2020

His popular mystery books transported readers to the timeless western frontier.

Peter Bowen, author of the Montana Mysteries and the Yellowstone Kelly Novels, passed away in early April of 2020. Bowen was known for crafting both contemporary and historical Western mysteries that evoke a strong sense of time and place. From the melting pot of cultures to the slow disappearance of an old way of life, the West formed a lively backdrop for Bowen’s rousing mystery narratives.

Born in 1945, Bowen spent his early childhood in Colorado and Indiana before moving to Bozeman, Montana at the age of 10. He got an early introduction to storytelling on his paper route in Bozeman, which ended at a bar called The Oaks. There, cowboys whose careers dated as far back as the 1870s would share stories of their adventures—most of which were exaggerated to hyperbole, yet always had a grain of truth.

Bowen’s trips to The Oaks eventually inspired him to craft fictional stories of his own. His writing career was also influenced by another, more jarring, childhood experience. After witnessing an inexplicable murder-suicide, Bowen developed a life-long fascination with small-town mysteries and decades-old secrets.

Bowen’s most popular work is the long-running Montana Mysteries, also known as the Gabriel Du Pré mystery series. A fiddle-playing, cattle-inspecting, mixed-raced lawman, Gabriel Du Pré wears many hats in the fictional town of Toussaint, Montana. There are 14 installments in the Montana Mysteries, spanning from 1994 to 2018. You may also recognize Bowen as the author of the Yellowstone Kelly series, comprised of four historical mysteries inspired by the real-life Yellowstone Kelly, a Civil War veteran.

Related: 8 Historical Mysteries Starring Venerable Sleuths

Though Bowen is no longer with us, we’ll always remember his unique contributions to the mystery genre. Watch the author video below for a firsthand glimpse of Bowen as he shares his thoughts about the writing process and the Western landscape that captured his heart. You can also listen to an episode of The Lineup Podcast that features a one-of-a-kind story told by Bowen. Then, explore Bowen's many books for an immersive Western mystery that you won’t soon forget.

"Meet Peter Bowen" author video

"Clubfoot George" - An Episode of The Lineup Podcast featuring Peter Bowen

Explore a selection of Peter Bowen's work below, from his Montana Mysteries to the Yellowstone Kelly books.

Montana Mystery #1

Coyote Wind

By Peter Bowen


Montana Mystery #10

Montana Mystery #13

Montana Mystery #14

Bitter Creek

By Peter Bowen


Yellowstone Kelly #1

Yellowstone Kelly

By Peter Bowen


Yellowstone Kelly #2

Author image: Michael Smith/